Letters to the Editor, Oct. 17

Why are short-term renters targets for A.G.?

Re: “Airbnb won’t cooperate with A.G. investigation,” T&V, Oct. 10

To the Editor:

I am intrigued that Eric Schneiderman decided to prioritize investigating Airbnb. Wasn’t he supposed to be prosecuting the banksters responsible for our continuing economic disaster? Come to think of it, where are those indictments?

Rich people don’t sublet their homes for short periods. Middle-class homeowners and renters do. There may be some nefarious businesspeople subletting to even lurkier subtenants on Airbnb, but I’m pretty sure most of the people using Airbnb to make money or have a place to stay are ordinary middle class people. Some people rent out their apartments because they have lost jobs and are traveling, looking for work. Others are having difficulty paying their monthly costs due to stagnating wages combined with continually rising co-op maintenance fees and endless assessments.

Again, the rich don’t have these troubles. Should middle-class homeowners be forced to sell their apartments or incur credit problems because of temporary financial setbacks?

I can’t sublet my apartment on Airbnb due to the fact I store confidential materials here, but if that wasn’t an issue I probably would occasionally sublet it.

I have fond memories of the “illegal” sublet I rented as a young graduate student in 1990. If that apartment hadn’t been available, I never would have been able to live in Manhattan, close to my school and internship. Again, this type of issue is not a problem for the rich — only for the middle class.

Schneiderman and Liz Krueger might want to think about the fact that most of the middle-class people who sublet on Airbnb in New York are registered Democrats…


Anne Rettenberg,
Kips Bay

Sukkah in park not unconstitutional

Re: Letter, “Sukkah doesn’t belong in public park,” T&V, Oct. 10

To the Editor:

The writer who objects to sukkahs in public parks has gone beyond the facts in stating, “the Constitution espouses the separation of church and state.”

The First Amendment forbids legislating, “an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and Article VI forbids a religious test for holding federal office. An establishment of religion, the thing forbidden, is a requirement that all citizens worship God in the manner of only one religion and must contribute to its financial support.  Allowing the free exercise of religion means that every citizen may choose to worship God, or not, in the manner he or she deems right, and in doing so may exercise all the other First Amendment freedoms — of speech, the press and peaceable assembly.

The Constitution mandates freedom for religion, not freedom from religion.

Yet Mendy Weitbaum may have exceeded these rights, in the same way one would by erecting a personal sign in a public park suggesting, “Drink Coca-Cola,” or “Fly American Airlines.” Yet, if he did exceed his rights, it’s because of erecting a symbol of his personal preferences, not because the symbol is a religious one.

Don Murray, ST

Re: Letter, “Sukkah doesn’t belong in public park,” T&V, Oct. 10

The phrase, “separation of church and state” is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson used it in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 to assure them that the state of CT would not interfere with their religious practices.

James Madison said the purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit Congress from establishing a national religion. Just because someone doesn’t want to see a sukkah, a cross, or anything else in a public park doesn’t make it unconstitutional, so the rabbi can put up a sukkah anywhere he wants.

Thank you for your consideration.

Joan Carmody,  PCV

‘Interesting’ owners

They have three transients in every eight apartments; they send you reminder notices on the day they’ve cashed your check; they inspect your apartment to insure that you’re using your 22-year-old refrigerator; two of five washing machines in a laundry room meant for over 100 apartments are unplugged. They hang padding 24/7 in elevators that rent stabilized tenants have paid for so transients can readily move in and out. They are the most interesting landlords in the world.

Name withheld, ST

Letters to the Editor, Oct. 10

On psychotic disorders and violence

We are all aware of the seeming increase in the frequency of attacks by persons who were later diagnosed as having a serious psychotic condition (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and…). In fact, the woman who tried to crash the gate of the White House was probably suffering from post partum depression. Most of the others we have heard about were suffering from schizophrenia –  which about 2 percent of the population has or will get.

When someone has a psychotic condition simply stated, they are “out of touch with reality.” Hallmark symptoms can include: delusions (a pattern of cognitions which are not congruent with the world); hallucinations (sensory input that, though seems real, is not – this can involve hearing voices which no one else can hear, seeing things that are not there; commands which only they can hear; even feeling that they are being touched and the sense of smell or taste…).

So, to them all these symptoms are considered to be real! Why are so few being treated? Stigmatization of mental disorders. And, the very symptoms precluded the insight that something is very wrong.

It must be remembered that when a psychotic person hears the hallucination: “Kill so and so,” it is as clear as you reading this line. It appears to be quite real.

From before a half-century ago, such people were involuntarily committed to “state hospitals” – often far away from family and friends – isolated. There were almost no viable treatments and these hospitals were more like dungeons. What to do?

President John F. Kennedy had a sister, Rosemarie, who suffered from some psychiatric condition – though it is not clear as to which diagnosis was appropriate. Her father, Joe, had her committed to a hospital and with little in the way of ameliorative efforts, she was given a lobotomy, which exacerbated her mental state. She remained there until her death about 10 years ago.

So, JFK had a keen interest in the treatment of those so afflicted. He proposed the closing of the state hospitals (see the 1948 film “The Snake Pit” for a quite realistic view of the conditions that one found in these “bedlams”). But, in part due to his assassination, the community program never went into effect, so a far worse situation has evolved: Half of those who are deemed to be psychotic are sent to jails and prisons.

However, there is at least one good development: the introduction of drugs, which helped many (they are called psychotropics and include anti-psychotics Thorazine, Haldol, Lithium, as well as antidepressants, like Prozac…).

How about violence? Actually, people with a psychotic condition commit this kind of behavior at about the same rate as “normal.” Most simply don’t have it together enough to attack anyone. The reason people believe the canard of say, schizophrenia and violence is due to the media always “highlighting” the psychiatric disorder when an event occurs.

One of the most prominent psychiatrists in the U. S. is Dr. E. Fuller Torrey. He has an especial interest in schizophrenia because his sister has suffered from this disorder since her teenage years. In his many books, articles and appearances he implores our nation to become cognizant of mental illness, lessen the stigma, and stop putting these people in prisons and revamp the system so persons so afflicted can get the available help in suitable venues and conditions.

David Chowes, PCV

David Chowes worked as a clinical psychologist at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center and taught at Baruch College/CUNY for 25 years.
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